The Alzheimer’s Association is committed to raising awareness of this fatal brain disease and its warning signs in diverse populations during Black History Month and year round. According to the Alzheimer’s Association 2013 Facts and Figures report, African-Americans are about twice as likely to have Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia than whites but less likely to have a diagnosis.
Many people dismiss the warning signs of Alzheimer’s, believing that they are merely a part of typical aging. While there are currently no treatments to stop or even slow the progression of Alzheimer’s, early detection and diagnosis can allow for earlier use of available treatments that may provide some relief of symptoms and help maintain independence longer.
Delays in diagnosis mean that African-Americans are not getting treatments when they are most likely to be effective at improving quality of life, as well as taking critical steps to educate themselves on Alzheimer’s and establish support networks.
The Alzheimer’s Association provides culturally and linguistically appropriate resources and materials for many diverse audiences, such as an African-American web portal that highlights information and issues that might be of concern to African-Americans.
Alzheimer’s Association 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease:
1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life.
2. Challenges in planning or solving problems.
3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure.
4. Confusion with time or place.
5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships.
6. New problems with words in speaking or writing.
7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps.
8. Decreased or poor judgment.
9. Withdrawal from work or social activities.
10. Changes in mood and personality.
The Alzheimer’s Association, Michigan Great Lakes Chapter aims to raise awareness within the African-American community about Alzheimer’s through community education. We believe that vital information about risk, symptoms, diagnosis and planning can be circulated effectively and offered to a large population of African-American constituents through faith-based partnerships.
Our vision entails forging new relationships with churches and gaining access to their congregations during established meeting times (Bible study groups, small group meetings, etc.). Chapter staff will present two education programs (Know the Ten Signs: Early Detection Matters and The Basics: Memory Loss, Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease) – providing essential information to individuals and families.
In addition to our goal of making critical information available, we also hope to increase our African-American volunteer base. We will provide training to interested congregational members so they can become volunteer education presenters and/or caregiver support group facilitators. A new core of African American volunteers will better sustain our outreach efforts and enhance our provision of Association programs and services to our chapter constituents.
Gary Chandler is a prion expert. He is the CEO of Crossbow Communications, author of several books and producer of documentaries about health and environmental issues around the world. Chandler is connecting the dots to the global surge in neurodegenerative disease, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, chronic wasting disease and other forms of prion disease. The scientific name for prion disease is transmissible spongiform encephalopathy. The operative word is “transmissible.” Even the global surge in autism appears to be related.